Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays from The Pelican Club

Another holiday season, another trip to The Pelican Club. Like the swallows to Capistrano, as soon as the calendar turns to December I always plan my reservation at one of the most underutilized restaurants in the city.

I will be the first to admit that the food at The Pelican Club has never struck me as either flawless executed or avant garde in terms of creativity. But the service has never been short of excellent in all of my visits, and with a dining room which may be my favorite setting in the French Quarter, a meal at The Pelican Club is always a pleasurable dining experience.

The Pelican Club is one of those French Quarter favorites which only serve lunch on Fridays in December, and I imagine that the special nature of this mid-day meal service was reason for the restaurant's emptiness last week. (Note: If you are planning on lunching tomorrow or next Friday and do not yet have a reservation, I would try here.) During the day time, the succession of dining rooms brightens as you move away from the center of Exchange Alley and closer to Bienville Street. Upon seating, a waiter will happily take your order for the bar's generously sized cocktails and present a basket of the house baked foccacia for you to subsist on while perusing the menu.

Escargots in Casserole
We started with baked oysters on the half shell, which experienced major shrinkage underneath a sprinkling of bacon and parmesan with garlic herb butter yet still remained tender. Escargots are capped off with puff pastry protecting bubbling pockets of mushroom duxelle and garlic butter, the leftovers of which make for an incredible spread on the remaining focaccia. I rarely rave about a salad, but I look forward to the goat cheese salad every year. The simple combination of peppery arugula and baby greens balances the crunch of walnuts and the rich, creaminess of goat cheese with tart sections of grapefruit.

Entrees are straight forward, maybe too much so. Truffle mashed potatoes and asparagus are fine and dandy, but their recurring appearances with other dishes show that the kitchen just does not pay much attention to side dishes. An 8 bone rack of lamb is coated with Dijon mustard, rosemary pesto, and bread crumbs to create a crust that protects a rosy red center, each slice of which is dragged through a demi-glace infused with port and mint. I sampled the butter poached lobster across the table, and I thought the crustacean was cooked perfectly. On my past visits I have had excellent luck with both the whole crispy flounder and paneed fish with creole meuniere and jalapeno hollandaise, but those will have to wait till next year.

All was washed down with several gin and tonics, 2 bottles of a smoky Aglianico, and plenty of laughter. As fine a Christmas luncheon as any.

Christmas at The Pelican Club - Birdie
312 Exchange Place
(504) 523-1504
Lunch: Friday 12/23 and 12/30; Dinner Nightly


kibbles said...

love it. they are a hidden gem. and the bartender Michelle is a doll!

@mistersandoz said...

Service: B, more busboys needed. Food: C, highlight was whole crispy fish (sea bass). The crab and corn bisque, filet, and paneed gulf fish were all under seasoned. Most food didn't come out hot and the filet was very tough (med. rare). Dessert: Skip coconut cream pie, zero flavor. Choose the bread pudding. Back room is loudest, try to avoid.